Creating win-win partnerships, The Customer Effect

Behind the US Bank, Greenlight partnership

  • Serving Gen Z has created a conundrum for banks: they know they need to have an offering for younger customers but they don't quite know what to build for them.
  • U.S. Bank recently partnered with Greenlight to roll out a family banking offering to its customers within its mobile app.

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Behind the US Bank, Greenlight partnership

When we talk to financial services executives, servicing Gen Z is top of mind. We hear this over and over again, whether through our proprietary research or working groups. But even with the will to cater to Gen Z, FIs don’t really have the stuff the younger customers want.

That’s where partnerships come in. U.S. Bank recently signed a deal with Greenlight, a financial app that is entirely focused on serving parents and their kids. While the fintech has always offered a direct channel for customers, it’s been expanding its footprint in working with and through traditional banks, like Chase and now U.S. Bank. Its platform — Greenlight for Banks — gives banks a straightforward way to build a presence in the family banking segment.

Matt Wolf, SVP of Business Development at Greenlight, told me in March at our Gen Z Symposium that he had hundreds of institutions in his pipeline for partnerships.

We spoke to Matt and Jennifer Miller, head of strategic alliances and campus banking at U.S. Bank, about some of the components behind the relationship to see if there were some takeaways for executives at other companies considering partnerships of this sort when it comes to Gen Z.

How does this partnership fit into your strategy to attract younger customers? And why now?

Jennifer Miller, head of strategic alliances and campus banking at U.S. Bank: With the proliferation of card and digital payments, families need solutions that provide kids of all ages with not only a debit card, but spend controls for protection and tools that help teach sound financial habits. You don’t learn about money at any age by simply swiping a card at checkout, that’s why financial education is so important. Making financial education accessible to all is something we continue to focus on at U.S. Bank, especially for younger demographics. In fact, we have 30+ universities and college partnerships where we provide students with access to financial education and banking services.

Timing for this partnership was all about ensuring an easy and accessible solution. In fact, U.S. Bank is the first bank to offer Greenlight via an embedded mobile app experience. We are really proud of that. It was important that when we introduced a new banking solution to families, that it was simple, convenient and accessible within our mobile app. Our new partnership with Greenlight helped us achieve that and helps U.S. Bank power the potential of our next generation of customers.

Why partner on this product? Why did you choose Greenlight?

U.S. Bank is already a leader in digital banking with our highly rated mobile app, so it was critical to secure a partner that provides that same high-level experience for customers. And with Greenlight already trusted by 6 million parents and kids, we saw an incredible opportunity to bring financial empowerment to more families.

Our partnership enables U.S. Bank to integrate the power of Greenlight into U.S. Bank’s mobile app – allowing parents to see balances, move money, set spend controls, all without leaving the U.S. Bank mobile app. Leveraging the collective strengths of U.S. Bank and Greenlight, we’re excited to help raise the next generation of financially smart kids.

How did this deal come to fruition? Any color on the process of partnering together?

Matt Wolf, SVP of Business Development, Greenlight: Greenlight has always had deep relationships with financial institutions collaborating with JP Morgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, and more than 60 other leading banks and credit unions. Last year, we formally launched our Greenlight for Banks program, which enables partners to offer Greenlight for free helping them better serve families and engage the next generation of customers.

We’ve known U.S. Bank for several years and were motivated to find a way to work together given their track record of impactful strategic partnerships and commitment to financial education. About a year ago after we launched our Greenlight for Banks solution, both sides came together to start exploring creative ways that U.S. Bank could leverage Greenight to engage with more families and enhance their financial education efforts in the community.

What are the key performance indicators that will be used to measure the success of this partnership in terms of customer acquisition and engagement?

Together, our collective goal is to serve more families with better family banking and education products that can help empower the next generation with financial literacy. 

To help us understand the effectiveness of our offering we’ll be monitoring a number of factors like engagement, feature utilization, account growth, deepening of existing customer relationships, and the educational impact of Greenlight’s financial literacy tools.

What are the plans for scaling and expanding the partnership over time?

In the near-term, we are mutually focused on helping as many U.S. Bank families as possible take advantage of the financial literacy tools that this partnership provides. Over time, both sides will work collaboratively to enhance the current product offering and explore additional, innovative ways to provide more value to families.

What are the most significant challenges in promoting financial literacy among younger generations, and how does this collaboration help address those challenges?

According to a Greenlight survey, 91% of kids and teens believe they need financial knowledge and skills to achieve their life goals, and 94% of parents agree. Still, only 35 states require a personal finance course for students, and teens score an average of 64% on the National Financial Literacy Test. Parents also rank personal finance as the #1 most difficult life skill to teach their children with 81% saying they wish they had better financial education tools resources.

The main challenges we see in personal finance education for young people are accessibility and effectiveness. First, financial education resources need to be readily available for everyone. Then, we need to ensure resources are engaging enough to be effective for younger generations. Kids and teens aren’t going to read dense personal finance books. Greenlight’s approach is to combine education with entertainment — we’ve designed a financial literacy game called Level Up that translates a best-in-class curriculum into fun, bite-sized challenges packed with videos, games, and animation.

Our partnership with U.S. Bank takes Greenlight’s financial education programs like Level Up and makes them instantly available for free to millions more families, bringing more accessible and effective financial education to the next generation. 

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